I pick nervously at my fingernails, checking the time every five seconds, even though I obviously know that it has been five seconds since I've last checked.
That was probably the most awkward night of my life. What I was thinking or how I was even getting through it is an utter mystery to me. I am so stupid.
Why did I agree to this.
I wrap my sweater around me, trying to suppress my shivers from the cold wind. I sent a letter to Gran earlier this week about how I was going to visit her today, and there is no doubt in the world that I would ever skip that. However, my attempts to get Regulus to meet me after I visit Gran were completely futile. He probably thinks that he's just being polite and patient and good by tagging along with me, but in all honesty I wanted alone time with her, and I'm sure that she will most likely overreact to me bringing a boy home from school. She's probably going to smother him with butter-filled goodies and handmade scarves and other sundry old-lady spoils.
That is the least of my worries, though.
I'm risking bumping into them, and frankly, there is nothing more worse in this world than them finding out where I live. Let alone them meeting Gran. I managed to slip away by convincing them that I'd run errands the entire time, buying the stupidest things so that they could enjoy doing whatever cruel and unspeakable things they enjoy doing.
I see Regulus wave from a distance and I wave back somewhat reluctantly. This was a bad idea.
“Hi,” he greets, with a large grin.
I smile a twitch of a smile.
“You ready, then?”
“Yeah. Erm... this way.” I point behind my back towards one of the streets.
We walk for a few minutes in silence as I blatantly avoid even looking at him.
“I like you, Ivy.”
I shiver uncontrollably, and not from the cold wind. It feels like ages ago when he said that, not only a few days. It's been echoing in my mind like a chiming clock, over and over at the most irritating moments. Though, of course it wasn't like like – more of a you're-interesting-and-I-find-that-amusing like. I can hardly tell if I'd even want it to be the former....
“Are we back to square one, then?” Regulus says suddenly.
“You're blatantly avoiding me again,” he laughs. I look over at him in surprise, only to find that his head is glowing from the sun directly behind him.
“Merlin, you looks like a saint.”
I slap my hand over my mouth. “Sorry,” I groan, mentally hitting myself on the head over and over again with a large hammer. “I-ignore that I said that. It... happens.”
“Yeah, I've noticed,” he says somewhat amusedly.
After my continuous apologies that I make for some unknown reason, we finally arrive in front of Finn & Woodberry's, smelling the familiar smells of butter, sugar, and old wood emanating from the chimney.
“So this is it?” Regulus asks, as if being here had satisfied his curiosity.
“It's dodgy,” I sigh, touching the chipping wood panels along the storefront, “But it's chez moi.”
“C'est tres charmant.”
“Oh. I just thought that you....”
“Shall we go in, then?” I say motioning towards the door, trying my best to avoid another strand of an awkward conversation.
Before Regulus can answer, the door flings open violently and out comes...
Well, actually, I have no idea who this woman is.
“Loiterers!” she cries. “Go on, then, you snot-nosed love birds. There'll be no loitering on this store front!”
We both stare at her—her wild eyes, her tightly knotted bun, her severe jaw line. She looks as if she's the school teacher in every child's nightmares.
“Who the hell are you?” I spit. “We're not loitering!”
“Standing outside the shop, not even window shopping, talking mindless chatter. I do believe that's loitering! Now off you go. I can't believe you bloody schoolchildren....”
“Where's Gran?” I demand, stepping towards her.
Her face falls and she drops her flailing arms, giving me a once-over. “Oh. It's you.”
“Darling? Darling, who is it? Don't scare the customers away.” I hear Gran's muffled voice from inside.
My eyes dart to the crazy lady and she glares a look of distrust directly at me. In a flash, I duck under her arm, following Gran's voice to her upstairs apartment, ignoring the woman's cries of annoyance.
“Gran? Gran!” I find her sitting at her corner table writing a letter, a bright vision in a floral dress and a bright pink quill in hand, her white hair pulled up in wispy curls. I throw myself into her arms, feeling entirely comfortable for the first time in a long time, the familiar smell of honey and lilacs filling my nose. “There's a crazy woman running your shop,” I say, my voice muffled against her chest. “I wasn't sure you've noticed, but I don't think she likes me very much.”
“I've missed you too, dearest,” Gran chuckles, pulling away. “And I'm sorry I haven't told you about her before, but – didn't you come with someone else?”
I blink a few times, suddenly realizing that I had entirely forgotten about Regulus. Oh....
“I've made goodies for the occasion. Why don't you bring your guest in and get comfortable while I warm up some tea,” she scurries downstairs towards the kitchen, and I follow not helping but noticing a slight grin on my face from finally being able to see her again.
As the shop comes into view, I see the crazy lady in the back, using the broom she had for its original intended purposes and Regulus standing awkwardly yet curiously in front of a shelf of old children's toys.
“Sorry about that,” I say to him, coming around his shoulder.
“Oh, I don't mind at all. It was rather interesting, to say the least.”
“See anything you like?”
“Hm. Well, here's the most exquisite banana harmonica. I've been in utter want of banana harmonicas lately....” I smile slightly to gratify his sarcasm.
“My, my. Who is this strapping young man you've brought here, Ivy?” Gran chirps, bringing over a tray of tea and biscuits.
“Oh! Erm... Gran, Regulus. Regulus, Gran. He's a... classmate.”
Merlin, am I stupid? Of course he's a classmate. But what else should I have said? This is the person I knocked out with a giant book after he saw me half naked, whom I confessed my undying love for.... Not to mention his brother is the living definition of a studmuffin. Precisely.
“Pleasure,” he says, shaking her hand.
Gran smiles, then laughs to herself. “What a catch, what a catch.”
“H-he's just a friend, Gran,” I mumble.
Regulus takes a teacup from Gran. “Oh, yes. Strictly friends,” he says, taking a sip. He smiles at me.
“Anyway,” I blurt, “You never told me who that lady is.”
“Darling, come here and let me introduce you to Ivy,” she calls.
The woman comes, clutching her broom as if she were to hit me when no one was looking. She looks to be in her thirties; however, she could possibly be younger if it weren't for her austere clothing and her painfully precise grooming. The aura around her clashes so much with Gran's that I can't imagine a single reason why she should even be here.
“Dear, this is Evelyn,” she says as I take a sip of tea. “My daughter.”
“Your daughter?” I sputter. I cough, choking in surprise.
“Her daugher,” Evelyn presses, as if I were an unwanted insect . Our eyes lock in unbending glares of distrust and repulsion, and I feel a quick urge to throw my teacup at her face. Maybe my shoe if I could do it fast enough.
She is suspicious and I do not like her in the slightest.
Regulus clears his throat. “I suddenly remembered,” he begins, “I have... a few errands to run. I'll meet you back here?” His voice fades as his eyes meet mine and he lets out a nervous chuckle.
I nod and make some sound of acknowledgment as Regulus excuses himself, thanks Gran for the tea, and says goodbye to Evelyn.
“What a nice young man,” Gran observes as the door closes behind him.
“Gran,” I say, making sure Regulus is gone, “May I speak to you?” I take a glance at Evelyn. “Alone?”
Evelyn gets up sharply and picks up her broom. “I was just about to leave.” I hear the back door swing shut as a cat screeches and muffled curses emanate from outside. I shudder. Cats give me the worst feelings nowadays.
“What's wrong, dear?” Gran asks, moving over to sit next to me.
“It's not me, it's—” I bite my lip. “Is everything okay here? Are you okay? Where's Mr. Finn?”
“Yes, everything is all in order, dear, and Mr. Finn is on a business trip to London. Why are you so concerned?” She takes my hands in hers.
“Oh, it's nothing. I suppose I'm worrying too much, but....” I turn to look Gran straight in the eye, lowering my voice. “Why is Evelyn here?”
“Is this what it's all about? Darling, she's my daughter—she's only here to help around. I know you don't seem to like her, but—”
“But you've never needed help before. And why all of a sudden? I've never seen any of your children ever since I've moved here. You haven't been writing as much since you were ill, either.”
“I'm just not the young lady I used to be,” she says, patting my cheek with a smile, but this isn't reason enough. I know she still isn't telling me something. “So don't be worried about old me. You need to take care of yourself. Look at you—so pale! You shouldn't over-exert yourself, dear. Enjoy these years while you can, alright?”
I force a smile, forcing thoughts of the Marauders far into my brain. “Alright,” I sigh.
“Now, tell me about this boy.”
“Gran, I told you—he's just a classmate.”
“Mhm,” she hums with a grin. “And so were Mr. Woodberry and I back in our time.”
“This is different. It's not like that.” I feel my face twist uncontrollably.
“Ah! I just remembered. How is that my Gerald? Is he well?”
“Er....” In all honesty, I forgot all about that old owl, even the fact that Gran had given him to me. He could be dead for all I know. I never use him to send letters for the fact that I fear that he'll never get to the destination or back in one piece.
I'm not even sure if he's at Hogwarts.
“He's wonderful,” I beam.
“Oh, I am so happy for you,” Gran breathes. She clutches her hand to her chest and gives a deep sigh.
“G-Gran?” I stutter, “Are you crying? Don't cry, Gran!” I panic, not knowing what to do. I've always been extremely uncomfortable in these sort of sentimental situations.
“Dear, me. I'm sorry, sweetheart. I'm just so glad.” She dabs her eyes with a flowery handkerchief.
“For what, Gran?”
“You're in school getting an education, you brought a new friend home with you, things seem to be going so well and I just – I just –” she blows her nose emphatically.
My mouth twitches into a terribly forced smile. “Y-yeah Gran – school is great. Everyone is wonderful and I'm getting along splendidly with my classmates....”
The fact that I have been and that I am lying to her cuts deep into my conscience, only deeper this time since I'm actually doing it to her face. However, if I tell her the truth... that will just make her worry even more. She's frail – I can tell, even though she's trying to hide it. I can't tell her everything. I can't do that to her.
“You know,” Gran sniffs, dabbing at her nose for the last time, “I used to worry that you were always bullied, and that you never were on good terms with anyone since that one friend of yours.”
“I'm just so happy for you!” She pulls me into her arms into a tight hug, and I can hear her sobs and sniffles in her chest.
“Thanks, Gran,” I whisper, holding back the stinging tears welled up in my eyes.
After saying my final goodbyes and receiving countless more hugs, I finally leave the shop but not without giving Evelyn one lasting glare. I stumble out onto the street—not really knowing where I'm going or why I'm even walking—taking in the scents and smells that remind me of my freedom during the summertime. As I walk, I pass a window of a shop: a window full of glistening dresses and accessories with intricate beading and embroidery, all of which must cost a fortune—lace, pearls, silk....
That party's today, isn't it? It's not that I forgot, of course.
Well, dammit, no shit I forgot. I've been so wrapped up in this whole morning that I forgot that tonight I had an... assignment. I run my hands down my face in exhaustion. I can't do this. There's no way Regulus would ask me to go with him. I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't—
“Little Ivy Parker,” says a low scratchy voice behind me. “Is that you?”
I gasp, whipping around to find one of my old neighbors looming directly over me.
A little story about Scrimshaw – occasionally he would come in and browse at the antique shop, but he was a regular at the Three Broomsticks. I remember he would always order two butterbeers, but only drank one and a half every time, sitting in the same table almost every day. He lives across the street from my apartment in an old run down wand repair shop. I'm not sure how old he is – he dropped out of Hogwarts or was expelled for one reason or other. Although he has a fairly young looking face and is quite possibly only a year older than me, he is completely bald except for a one curly tuft of hair on the top of his head. He is tall, really tall, so much so that it seems like gravity has stooped his posture into a hook, or maybe he has to duck under every doorway that he keeps himself like that permanently. He also insists on calling me Little Ivy. No idea why. All-in-all... he is the creepiest man alive. The local children call him the Scrim Reaper due to some various rumors around the street involving the neighbors' pets that I would rather not mention.
“H-hi... Carlton....” I mumble.
“A trip to Hogsmeade, I see?” he asks, as I slowly make my way around so my back isn't towards the window. “You've grown up so fast.”
“Yup.” I crack a nervous smile.
“Tell me, Little Ivy. How old are you going to be?”
“Seventeen in a few months,” I say, but immediately regret telling him that. I take a step away from him.
“I miss having my favorite waitress at the Three Broomsticks,” he croons, fumbling with his fingers. “Why don't you join me for a drink someday? It doesn't have to be now....” He pauses, but then I hear him murmur, “Maybe in a few months....”
An immense shiver runs down my spine along with a brooding sensation that I might die any second. I want to scream.
“W-well,” I stammer, trying to think up a good excuse, “I-I don't think.... I don't think my boyfriend would appreciate that.” I laugh tensely.
“My, my. Really?” Scrimshaw asks, taking a step forward.
“Y-yeah. It wouldn't be good to have any er-erm l-loyalty issues.” I gulp.
“Oh, my dear, we're only friends, aren't we?” he says, then adds after a brief pause, his eyes lingering on my hair. I grab at it defensively. “Who is this boyfriend of yours, may I ask?”
“H-he's... well... very tall... and erm... muscular... therefore strong....”
His spindle-like fingers begin to reach towards my face. “You have the most ravishing skin—”
Suddenly, I feel a warm arm wrap around my shoulder firmly, but gently. “Ivy! There you are. Where have you been?”
I look up, on the verge of bursting into tears, and find my savior, my knight in shining armor—
“Sorry to keep you waiting, dear,” Sirius says spiritedly, giving me a hearty pat on the back. He grabs me around my waist and pulls me closer to him. I try to wriggle out of his grasp, but he's too strong. “Who is this fine gentleman? Why don't you introduce us, my sweet.” He smiles at me with his blindingly perfect teeth.
For a moment, I feel myself start to melt. But then I remember how much I completely and absolutely abhor him.
Of all the people in the world who happen to save me, it just had to be him, didn't it?
“Sirius, this is... Carlton. My old neighbor,” I say as steadily as I can, “Carlton, this is Sirius.” He nudges me after a brief pause. “M-my... er....”
“Her loving and doting boyfriend. Pleasure meeting you, sir.” He shakes Scrimshaw's hand emphatically. Scrimshaw recoils quickly, rubbing his hand close to his chest.
I take quick glances at the two of them, back and forth. One, for making sure Scrimshaw is believing this thing entirely, and two, for wondering how I'll be able to kill Sirius later.
“So, my pet. Shall we go now? Time is running short. We must be on our way. It's a pity we couldn't talk any longer.” He begins to walk back away from Scrimshaw as he gives my nose a touch with his finger. “Adieu, Carlton.”
My eye twitches. “G-Goodbye.” Sirius whips around and we walk away slowly and deliberately.
As I turn my head to look behind me, Sirius stops me by pulling me closer to him. It isn't until now that I notice that he's had his wand clutched in his other hand this entire time. “Don't you dare look back, Ivy Parker,” he hisses, and I have no choice but to listen.
We continue to walk at a calm pace. I can feel Sirius breathing steadily while I hardly breathe at all. A flurry of thoughts go through my mind, but oddly enough, it has nothing to do with what just happened or what is happening right now. Once we finally turn a corner into a large alleyway and out of sight, for some stupid and unknown reason I can't comprehend, I bury my face in his chest and start to sob uncontrollably.
“P-please,” I gasp, “J-just don't say anything right now, okay? Just sh-shut up.”
And we stand there. Sirius pats my back awkwardly, albeit gently, as I cling to his shirt, hyperventilating and shivering. My heartbeat slows back down to its normal rhythm and I eventually come back to my senses.
What was I thinking?
I push myself away from him, smacking my forehead in frustration and confusion.
Stupid, stupid Ivy.
“Are you alright?” Sirius asks, touching my shoulder.
I slap his hand away. “Don't you touch me,” I yell. “Of course I'm not alright! Th-this is too much! I can't believe that you—tonight is the party and I can't even—this is overwhelming and that—yes, that, back there, was possibly the most horrifying encounter I have ever—your brother—where did you—how did you get me to—I NEED A HOT BATH TO DROWN MYSELF IN.”
“Wait, Ivy, where are you going?” He grabs my wrist before I can even stomp away farther than three feet.
“Do not touch me,” I hiss through gritted teeth. “Please. I don't need this.” He backs away, raising his hands in the air.
“Sorry,” he says defensively.
I start to pace between the narrow walls of the alley. “What is this?” I cry, waving my arms around wildly.
“This—this entire thing. Here I am. You've got me under your thumb. I'm vulnerable and I'm all opened up for you to twist me with your terrible claws. You saved my arse yet again, my valiant paladin—oh, yes, I might as well thank you—but what do you want?”
“I don't understand,” he says, a crease forming on his forehead. “I don't want anything.”
“Don't fool me!” I spit, “You think I don't know you, Sirius Black? There's a reason why you came here. I do not trust you. How can I after all this? There's a reason why you happened to be in the right spot at the right time. What do you want from me?” I grab his shoulders and shake him.
Sirius blinks in surprise and is speechless for a moment. “Nothing,” he says indignantly, putting my hands back on my sides. “I just saved you from getting felt up by an old ped—”
“Please. Don't make me relive that.”
“Sorry,” he repeats, only more irritably.
“Will you just let me alone for one bloody day? Am I so... so despicable that you must bother me every breathing moment of my existence?”
I see the corner of Sirius' eye twitch as he takes in a sharp breath. “Well, I'm sorry I saved you. I shouldn't have done that. I should have left you there. You know, I shouldn't care,” he sneers. “Better?”
I roll my eyes. “Yes, that's loads better.”
Sirius runs his hands irritably through his hair, and I can see that he's stifling a scream. Good for him.
“You—You ungrateful little harpy!” He yells, pointing a vicious finger at me. “What a typical Slytherin. The whole lot of you are pathetic, thankless—”
And with that, I slap him square in the face with no previous thought to it. It's the most gratifying I've felt, if ever, and if I weren't so angry I'd laugh in drunken satisfaction.
Ten points to Ivy Parker.
“Ivy, what are you doing in here?”
“What do you want?!” I turn around to see Regulus rushing towards me.
“Wha—Were you talking to someone? I thought I heard... screaming?”
“I—” Sirius is gone. How could he have disappeared? I didn't even hear him disapparate, even if he did. Gawds....
That was horrifying.
“I went back to the shop but they said you left over half an hour ago. Are you okay? You look like you just saw a boggart.”
“Y-yeah, I'm fine. Let's go,” I mumble, taking one last look behind me.
Regulus follows me out of the alleyway. “I got your stuff,” he says as he lifts several paper bags.
“You had a shopping list that fell out of your pocket when we were walking. Thought I might get them for you. You can just pay me back later.” He fishes out the list the Marauders made for me out of his pocket. “But why would you need three pounds of toffee?”
I snatch the list from his hands. It's pretty long, which makes me wonder how he bought them all so fast. As I scan it, I see the most idiotic and pointless things, along with ones that I haven't even heard of. Some potions ingredients, candy, quills, candy, a numerous amount of things from Zonko's, candy, toothpaste, soap, condoms—
“Holy sh—!” I scream, throwing the list to the ground. “Oh, Merlin... I—I haven't even looked at that thing yet. I can explain. None of this is mine. The Ma—I mean, my roommates and I take turns to, erm, go shopping and it was my turn and—”
“It's fine. I get it,” Regulus says, laughing. “I automatically assumed it wasn't all yours.”
“N-none of it is, actually,” I press.
“Want to grab a butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks?” he asks, briskly changing the subject. “It's getting colder.”
“Don't you need to find that place you were looking for?”
“Oh. I already found it.”
“Agh, I'm so sorry,” I groan. I run my hands down my face. “I must have taken so long without realizing it... I should've done that last.”
“It was only... three hours,” Regulus mumbles with a slight grin, “But that was obviously important for you. I found it anyway and I'm in one piece, so everything is good, yeah? Here—take this. You won't stop shivering.” He hands me his jacket, ignorant of the fact that I'm not shivering from the weather. It smells like mahogany.
“By the way,” he begins, sniffling from what it seems to be a slight cold. “Are you going to that party tonight?”
YESSSS I DID IT! haha :)
There's a bit of slight Sirius/Ivy action for my fans out there. Just be patient and wait for some more!
I submitted this almost two months ago but sadly it kept getting rejected so I had to change a couple things here and there. Sorry about that, guys :(
But please, please, PLEASE leave a review! They keep me sane!
Oh and ask a question on my ask the author's page
I love you all!!
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